States of emergency, downtown security area announced

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Governor Ralph Northam and the city of Charlottesville have declared states of emergency ahead of this weekend's anniversary of the Unite the Right rally.

And there is a defined security area that will be established around downtown that will including security checkpoints limiting access to pedestrians.

According to a release on the emergency declarations, this is to address the potential impacts of events in and around Charlottesville and Washington, D.C. that will be taking place this weekend.

Virginia State Police Superintendent Gary Settle said they are devoting 700 state troopers to the Charlottesville area this weekend. Coupled with hundreds of officers from the Charlottesville, Albemarle County and University of Virginia police departments, a city spokesperson said there will be more than 1,000 law enforcement officers working in the Charlottesville area this weekend. Nearly 300 members of the Virginia National Guard will be on standby.

The release adds these declarations will enhance planning and cooperative response efforts that have been in development since March.

A state of emergency is a tool that allows state agencies to perform actions outside the scope of their normal operations in order to ensure all necessary resources and assistance are provided to local governments and residents.

"Declaring this state of emergency in advance of the anniversary and the related planned events will help us ensure that the state and the city have all available resources to support emergency responders in case they're needed," said Northam. "Virginia continues to mourn the three Virginians who lost their lives in the course of the demonstrations a year ago. We hope the anniversary of those events passes peacefully."

"We have learned many lessons from the tragic events of Aug. 12, 2017. For the anniversary of that difficult August weekend, which resulted in three lives lost, the city of Charlottesville, Albemarle County and the University of Virginia are working closely with law enforcement and public safety agencies from around Virginia to plan for potential events to keep our city safe from violence," said Charlottesville Interim City Manager Mike Murphy. "We join the Commonwealth in declaring a state of emergency in advance of these planned events to ensure all available resources are in place and that we are fully prepared to keep the peace in Charlottesville."

The Virginia state of emergency will mobilize and fund state resources from the state Department of Emergency Management, VSP, Department of Health, National Guard and other agencies.

It also activated the Virginia Emergency Operations Center to coordinate state resources.

The declaration allocates $2 million to pay for this response and authorizes the Virginia National Guard to assign forces to assist in security efforts.

With regards to the security area downtown, law enforcement personnel will man two entry points for pedestrians seeking to enter the security area.

Those entry points will be at First Street S and Water Street and at Second Street SE and Water Street.

The city has also announced a list of prohibited items that will not be allowed within the security area, which includes BB guns, pellet guns, air rifles or pistols, paintball guns, pellet guns, nunchucks, tasers, stun guns, heavy gauge metal chains, lengths of lumber or wood, poles, bricks, rocks, metal beverages or food cans or containers, glass bottle, axes, axe handles, hatchets, ice picks, acidic or caustic materials, hazardous or flammable or combustible liquids, skateboards, swords, knives, daggers, razor blades or other sharp items, metal pipes, pepper or bear spray, mace, aerosol sprays, catapults, wrist rockets, bats, sticks, clubs, drones, explosives, fireworks, open fire or open flames, and any other item that can be considered an "implement of riot."

The ban does not include handguns, Brackney said, because that ban would violate the Second Amendment.

Law enforcement officers will also be enforcing the state law against the wearing of masks in certain places. These include hoods or other devices that cover a "substantial portion of the face."

Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney said pedestrians will not be subject to unlawful searches or have their bags checked as they go through the checkpoints.

The security checkpoints will be effective the evening of Aug. 10 and last through the weekend.

The University of Virginia Health System states it will continue to operate as normal, and patients should keep their scheduled appointments.

For more information on any of these topics, click on the links in the Related Links box.


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